Theatrical Review: The Tempest by South Coast Repertory

Last Sunday, my wife Lisa and I had the pleasure of catching the South Coast Repertory production of The Tempest in Costa Mesa, CA. Now The Tempest holds a pretty special spot in my heart, as it was the first major Shakespeare I ever saw, a magical production with Anthony Hopkins as Prospero at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles back in 1978; I’ll talk about that show more when we get to that play at the end of this project, but suffice to say it was a seminal moment in my love of Shakespeare.

The Tempest is a tough play to pull off. It deals with magic, and how to convey that on stage? It’s not easy. It often comes off as overly solemn or worse, cheesy. The earlier production began with a piece of stagecraft that set a magical tone (especially to this fifteen year-old) and then used that initial shock to carry the play. This production takes a different tack, however. Prospero is a magician, so why not show magic? Real magic (if that’s not an oxymoron).

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Pericles, Prince of Tyre… at California Lutheran University

it’s great… I was able to catch two Shakespeare plays within a week of one another… that hasn’t happened since our pre-Kyle days up in Ashland… but it will happen again next summer when we–as a family–head up to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for a mini-week play-going vacation

OK, a couple of days back, I caught a local college’s production of Pericles.

Now, like Love’s Labor’s Lost nearly a week earlier, Pericles is a play I’ve never seen on stage (that’s the reason why I chose to go, mid-week, on a school night, no less).  It is a play I’ve read (and taught back in my high school days… though that year is now nearly two decades past, and, well, until I read the synopsis in the program I was a little unclear on the plot [I remembered the gap in time and the lost daughter… but hell, with the tragicomedies/romances, that was a pretty safe bet]).  So off we went (yeah, I dragged Lisa along with me) to California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks… about 20 miles or so from my neck of the woods.  Cal-Lu is also the home of the Kinsgmen Shakespeare Company (which presented the Macbeth which was the subject of our second-ever podcast back in July).
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